By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – The political polarization that societies with an enduring dictatorship suffer is terrible, be that a leftist dictatorship (in the name of workers) or of the Right (in the name of Capital).
They all have their own “justification”: some claim that they need to stop something from progressing into something worse, or to keep things stable, or even to protect freedom; while others claim that this is the only way they can bring out social justice.
However, even though dictatorships have positive aspects (like everything does in this world), the cost-benefit relationship is very bad, unpayable and ethically wrong. Up until now, democracy has been the only viable and fairest political path, and I believe that this will always be the case, at least for the human race.
Here in Cuba, we have a leftist dictatorship, “of the proletariat”, as Marxism books say. Which is now undergoing change to become as institutionalized as it can be. Taking on the costume of democracy in mimicking way, when in reality it continues to be an authoritarian system. Like I mentioned in a previous article a neopresidentialist system.
There are many ideological variants fighting for a “different” country and pretty much all of us want a democracy. This is why the Government scorns us as a group, it doesn’t matter what stripes we wear, because we are a threat to its immense power, which is something that unites us as the opposition. There was a tough, radical and even violent struggle to bring about change in Cuba for a long time. Wipe out the Government in one blow and establish another one, as if by magic. And if Uncle Sam did it, then that was even better. What’s more, many people demanded that Uncle Sam be the one to do this.
However, the US didn’t do this and they won’t, nor is it right for them to do this. It’s crucial that we stop dreaming of something magical to make Cuba change or that a powerful being will come and do the job for us. It’s our job as Cubans to make our country better, nobody else’s!
As a democratic socialist, I want a democratic, fair and prosperous Homeland. I know that the country needs to change, but years have been passing us by and we still haven’t caught a glimpse of any path, a “road map” as people say nowadays.
It’s no wonder that our people emigrate in masse, without any faith in our system or that the opposition can bring about change. And people only chase after what will supposedly be successful, not what they have seen fail beforehand. That’s how the human mind works and we won’t get anywhere if we start criticizing natural attitudes. It’s better to try and understand them instead.
The reality is that we don’t have a united opposition in or outside of Cuba; there isn’t a single voice that promotes national or international recognition or serves to put pressure on the Government to enter negotiations. We just have scattered struggles and sometimes they are wrapped up in sterile tensions which only help the government’s official campaign of defaming them and jokes on TV.
Spontaneous social struggle is the only path that we can see on the horizon, but it is very difficult because of the regime’s strict social control. Fear and a lack of civic culture continue to make the difference. And even though the Cuban people are slowly becoming aware, it’s a gradual process. The battle against Decree-Law 349 is an example of how we are changing and mostly of how we can fight peacefully, resisting, to win over small spaces of freedom and have small victories.
Repression is awful, the artists who protested know this full well. The ones that were directly harassed, threatened, arrested for hours and days on end, they experienced and suffered this repression, but they also resisted. And their suffering is something that can’t be put into words, I know from my own experience. Psychological repression is three times more effective and cutting than physical repression. And they are MASTERS of repression here in Cuba.
I believe that this is the way forward, to win small, one-off battles that make a peaceful and exponential social struggle possible. And then, use these to put pressure on the Government to enter into negotiations and salvage our rights in this way.
Our “Communist brothers” feel like they own this country because they have too much power in their hands and because they embraced an extremist ideology. We need to defeat them in a peaceful way so that they can also be winners, not tyrants. For everyone’s wellbeing, including their own, because they are harming themselves every time they trample all over our rights and sink the country into further poverty. We all win with a democracy.
I know that Maceo once said that “you don’t beg for your rights, you win them with the sharp edge of a machete.” But, I’m not talking about begging, but about applying pressure with a machete that doesn’t spill blood. A “symbolic” machete which represents the strength of a just cause. This is today’s machete.
That’s why I agree with Martin Luther King when he said:
“My mistake was protesting against segregation on the whole before fighting against a concrete event […] This would have been a symbolic victory and it would have galvanized our support and morale…”
“The objective of […] taking direct action is to create a situation of widespread crisis that inevitably opens the door to the negotiations table.”
How useful it would have been if everyone had fought against and criticized the current draft Constitution, which isn’t the one that Cuba needs of course, but the one that the Cuban Communist Party needs, and we would have demanded an article that gave way to a peaceful social struggle!
For example, managing to get arrests without charges reduced to only 24 hours, with a lawyer present from the very beginning; eliminating the crime of pre-criminal social danger, and being able to file complaints with the Attoreney-General’s Office about State Securty agents’ violations. This alone would have opened up a space for us to fight for civil rights as it would have helped to qualm the Cuban people’s fear of repression. Reducing MININT’s legal force to repress us is crucial in us being able to salvage our rights.
If many voices, every voice!. asked for something like that, then these fundamental things that appear in the 1940 Constitution, would have meant that we were half way there. We wouldn’t only gain important support, but we would be able to reclaim our rights in a better way and pressure the Government, over time, to negotiate for a better Cuba. Every right we win would help us to win others, until one day we can win “full justice” like Marti once said. I don’t see any other viable path.